Kansas legislators not likely to legalize medical marijuana this year following Thursday’s vote

Kansas legislators aren’t likely to legalize marijuana for medical uses this year following a vote Thursday.

A Senate committee tabled a bill that would allow doctors to sign off on patients using marijuana products to treat 21 illnesses or conditions, including cancer, epilepsy, spinal cord injuries or chronic pain, starting in July 2024. Committee Chair Mike Thompson, a Shawnee Republican, said he has no plans to bring the bill back up this year.

Thirty-seven states allow the medical use of marijuana, including Oklahoma and Arkansas. Of those, 21 also allow recreational use, including Colorado and Missouri.

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Kansas Sen. Mike Thompson presides over a Senate and Federal and State Affairs Committee meeting on March 7, 2023, at the Statehouse in Topeka. The committee tabled a bill to legalize the medical use of marijuana in the state.

Kansas Sen. Mike Thompson presides over a Senate and Federal and State Affairs Committee meeting on March 7, 2023, at the Statehouse in Topeka. The committee tabled a bill to legalize the medical use of marijuana in the state. (AP Photo/John Hanna)

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly supports legalizing medical marijuana, but opposition from law enforcement officials bolstered the skepticism of Thompson and other conservative Republicans in the GOP-controlled Legislature.

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The Kansas House passed a medical marijuana bill in 2021, but the measure didn’t receive a committee vote in the Senate. Like this year’s bill, the earlier measure would prohibit smoking pot or vaping with it.

The bill before the Senate committee would require both patients and their caregivers to register with the state health department to have permission to buy marijuana at state-licensed dispensaries. The state would impose a 10% tax on dispensaries’ sales.

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